Gaming Steve

MMORPG Archives - Page 4

December 5, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 29 - 12.05.2005

Auto AssaultIn this special Gaming Steve episode I sit down with Scott Brown and Ryan Seabury from NetDevil, the makers of the upcoming Auto Assault. In the interview we cover the game's setting, the three player races, the character creation process, new features in the public Beta, the crafting, the weapons, the cars, and the oh-so-much-fun mindless destruction. Enjoy!

Gaming Steve Episode 29 Program

  • 00:07:04 GameTalk: Interview with Scott Brown and Ryan Seabury from NetDevil, the makers of the upcoming Auto Assault.
  • 00:28:52 Show Mail: I answer your gaming questions.
  • 00:45:04 Final Thoughts on developing games in chilly Colorado.
Download the show (48 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 29 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
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Posted by Gaming Steve at 6:00 PM | Posted to Interview | MMORPG | PC | Podcast |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 14, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 26 - 11.14.2005

Jack Emmert and City of VillainsIn this special Gaming Steve episode I sit down with Jack Emmert, aka "The Statesman", Creative Director of Cryptic Studios. In the interview Jack and I talk about City of Heroes and the newly released City of Villains (of course), the future of comics, what's next for Cryptic, Jack's favorite comics, and much more. Oh yeah, and we talk about the comic book classic Atari Force, enjoy!

Gaming Steve Episode 26 Program

  • 00:03:59 GameTalk: Interview with Jack Emmert, aka "The Statesman", Creative Director at Cryptic Studios.
  • 00:28:28 Show Mail: I answer your audio and email questions.
  • 01:16:05 Final Thoughts on finding an Xbox 360, the PSP as a gaming platform, and where is the rest of the show?
Download the show (83 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 26 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
Add the Gaming Steve Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.
Vote for Gaming Steve on Podcast Alley.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 8:00 PM | Posted to Interview | MMORPG | PC | Podcast |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 10, 2005

Man Buys Virtual Island for $26,500 - Makes Money Back in a Year

Project Entropia Island PackageSome might remember last December when a 22-year-old gamer spent $26,500 on an island that exists only in the MMORPG Project Entropia. For those unfamiliar with Project Entropia it allows gamers to buy and sell virtual items using real cash. Players are allowed to exchange real currency for PED (Project Entropia Dollars) and then back again into real money.

At the time this story got a fair amount of airtime, with most news organizations taking the angle of "hey get this, some silly gamer 'bought' a virtual island for $26.5k ... what an idiot!" Well, that silly gamer is laughing no more as he managed to recoup his investment in less than one year.

According to the game developers the now 23-year-old gamer, know as only as Deathifier, has made the money back that he spent on the island. By selling land to build virtual homes as well as taxing other gamers to hunt or mine on the island he was able to generate an income on his virtual land. With his initial investment paid off, Deathifier can start making some real-world profit from a completely virtual property.

It will be interesting see how another virtual property in the game performs as just last month Project Entropia player Jon Jacobs bought a virtual space station for a mere $100,000. Jacobs plans to turn the space station into a virtual resort ground that spawns dinosaur-like monsters, which visitors can kill (actually, that sounds pretty damn cool). Jacobs will take a cut of the virtual resources that gamers will make selling the dinosaur hides and he estimates he will make about $20,000 a month from running this virtual service.

Could you just imagine if World of Warcraft decided to start selling loot and land directly to players? Azuroth would probably have Gross National Product higher than 95% of the world's countries. Ah, the future is fun.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:00 AM | Posted to Culture | MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

November 3, 2005

World of Warcraft China Examined

World of Warcraft ChinaConsidering all the recent talk on how World of Warcraft actually functions in China I thought it would be interesting to take a much closer look at this little understood topic.

First and foremost it's important to understand that Blizzard doesn't actually run World of Warcraft in China. They have licensed WOW China to the company The9 which is one of the leading online game operators in China. In addition to running WOW, The9 also run several other MMORPGs including "MU", "Mystina Online", "Granado Espada", and "Joyful Journey West". I'm sure that most of you probably haven't even heard of some of these games but they are extremely popular I assure you.

Just to give you an idea of how popular MMORPGs are in Asia and China the game "MU" first launched in February 2003 and very shortly reached a player base of over 15 million registered users. MMORPGs are a huge business overseas and completely dwarf the American and European MMORPG market. Even your "average" MMORPGs in Asia have over a million registered users (meanwhile Everquest is proud of having nearly 500,000 users at their peak).

The9 and Blizzard launched WOW in China on June 7, 2005 and in less than one month the game exceeded 1.5 million paying players and continues to grow at an breakneck rate. Financial analysts expect WOW China to easily reach over 10 million registered users if not more.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about The9 is that it's a public company and traded on the NASDAQ market exchange. What that means is that The9 has to publicly disclose their business operations to anyone who might be interested in investing in the company. They do this by publishing quarterly reports every three months as well as an extremely comprehensive annual report at the end of each year. If you have never read an annual report because it sounds boring you might be surprised what you can find in there, including some very interesting information on how an online gaming company is run in China.

All of the following information can be found in The9 2004 Annual Report which may give you a better understanding of how WOW functions in China. All items in quotes are directly from the report and I have provided the page number within the report for easier reference. This is just a small overview of some of the more interesting and relevant items. Make sure to read the entire report to get a true understanding of just how unique the Chinese MMORPG market is compared to the States (details follow the jump).

Concerning the WOW license agreement with Vivendi Universal Games (VUG)and Blizzard (Page 11)
“We are obligated to pay royalties equal to 22% of the face value of WoW prepaid cards and online points sold by us by making recoupable advances against royalty payments in an aggregate amount of approximately US$51.3 million over a four−year period commencing from the commercial launch. We paid VUG an initial non−refundable license fee of US$3.0 million in 2004 and the first year minimum royalty guarantee of US$13.0 million in 2005. We are also obligated to commit no less than approximately US$13.0 million in the marketing and promotion of WoW in China during the term of the license agreement. To meet this obligation and to promote WoW in China, we have agreed to conduct a joint marketing campaign with Coca−cola (China) Beverages Limited, or Coca−Cola China, to promote WoW in China.”

Concerning online game operators in China (Pages 13-14)
“There are over 100 online game operators in China. We expect more companies to enter the online game industry in China and a wider range of online games to be introduced to the China market, given the relatively low entry barriers to the online game industry. Our competitors vary in size and include large companies such as Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, Netease.com, Inc. and Sina Corporation, many of which have significantly greater financial, marketing and game development resources and name recognition than we have.”

Concerning SARS and MMORPG gaming (Pages 20-21)
“In early 2003, several economies in Asia, including China, were affected by the outbreak of SARS. During the height of the SARS epidemic in the second quarter of 2003, we experienced a decline in the number of concurrent users of MU in China, which we believe resulted largely from the Chinese government’s decision to close Internet cafés in Beijing and elsewhere to prevent the spread of SARS. Most of our online game players can only access MU at Internet cafés. A renewed outbreak of SARS or another widespread public health problem in China could have a negative effect on our operations. Our operations may be impacted by a number of health−related factors, including, among other things, quarantines or closures of our offices which could severely disrupt our operations, the sickness or death of our key officers and employees, closure of Internet cafés and other public areas where people access the Internet, and a general slowdown in the Chinese economy. Any of the foregoing events or other unforeseen consequences of public health problems could adversely affect our business and results of operations. We have not adopted any preventive measures or contingency plans to ensure the safety of employees and minimize disruptions or other adverse effects on our operations that may occur due to a recurrence of SARS, or similar adverse public health developments in China.”

Concerning online games and regulation by the Chinese government (Pages 23-24)
“The online game industry in China is highly regulated by the Chinese government. Various regulatory authorities of the Chinese central government, such as the State Council, the State Press and Publication Administration, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Public Security, are empowered to issue and implement regulations governing various aspects of the online games industry.

We are required to obtain applicable permits or approvals from different regulatory authorities in order to provide online games. For example, an Internet content provider, or ICP, must obtain an ICP license in order to engage in any commercial ICP operations within China. In addition, an online games operator must also obtain a license from the Ministry of Culture and a license from the State Press and Publication Administration in order to distribute games through the Internet. If we fail to maintain any of these required permits or approvals, we may be subject to various penalties, including fines and the discontinuation or restriction of our operations. Any such disruption in our business operations would materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.”

Concerning the regulation of Internet cafes in China (Page 24)
“Internet cafés, which are currently the most important outlets for online games, have been criticized by the general public in China for having exerted a negative influence on young people. Due primarily to such adverse public reaction, some local governments in China have tightened their regulation of Internet café operations through, among other things, limiting the number of the new operating licenses to be issued and further reducing the hours during which the Internet cafés are permitted to open for business. Also, local and higher−level governmental authorities may from time to time decide to more strictly enforce the customers’ age limit and other requirements relating to Internet cafés as a result of the occurrence of, and the media attention on, gang fights, arsons or other incidents in or related to Internet cafés.”

Concerning the regulation and censorship of information in China (Page 25)
“The Ministry of Culture has issued a notice reiterating the government’s policies to prohibit the distribution of games with violence, terror, cruelty or other elements that may have the potential effect of instigating crimes, and to prevent the influx of harmful cultural products from overseas. The notice requires, among other things, the review and prior approval of all the new online games licensed from foreign game developers and related license agreements. We have obtained the necessary approvals from the Ministry of Culture for operating MU and WoW in China. We will submit new games licensed from foreign developers for the required review in due course. The Ministry of Culture may find the content of our new licensed games objectionable, and we may otherwise be unable to obtain the approvals for these games in a timely manner, or at all. If this happens, we will not be able to launch our new licensed games within the expected timeframe or at all, and our business and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.”

Concerning Internet service in China (Page 28)
"Although private sector Internet service providers currently exist in China, almost all access to the Internet is maintained through state−owned telecommunication operators under the administrative control and regulatory supervision of China’s Ministry of Information Industry. In addition, the national networks in China connect to the Internet through government−controlled international gateways. These government−controlled international gateways are the only channel through which a domestic Chinese user can connect to the international Internet network."

Concerning payment for online games (Page 37)
“To use our fee−based online games, a customer must register an account in our Pass9 system. Once registered, the customer may log into our network, select and activate the desired games and the game districts where the customer wishes to play, and then charge his account with a prepaid card or prepaid online points sold by Internet cafés or given by us through our promotional events that enable the customer to play for a specified period of time.

Each customer needs to maintain only one Pass9 account, which provides information regarding the customer’s available prepaid game playing time for each selected game district and payment history. A customer can purchase game playing time through any of the following methods:

Prepaid Cards. A customer can buy prepaid cards at retail outlets including convenience stores, supermarkets and bookstores all across China. Each prepaid card contains a pass code representing game playing time offered by the card based on its face value.

Prepaid Online Points. Over 120,000 Internet cafés across China have used our self−developed eSales System, which is part of our Pass9 system and enables an Internet café to buy prepaid online points from our distributors and sell such points to their customers.

Online Payment. A customer can buy game playing time online by charging payment directly to a credit or debit card. In addition, we offer free online game playing time to our new registered customers and users of our SMS service. We have also included free game cards in our marketing materials to attract new customers. Our integrated membership management and payment system also incorporates a variety of community−building features, such as chat rooms which provide registered users a platform to interact in real−time groups or one−on−one discussions, and bulletin boards which allow registered users to post notes or inquiries and respond to other users’ notes or inquires. We believe these features encourage user congregation on our site and facilitate player interaction for the games we offer.”

As you can see, WOW and all other MMORPGs in China face completely different challenges than those in the States and Europe. Which makes WOW even more interesting as with most MMORPGs the developer simply has to worry about gameplay balance, server stability, community management, billing options, 24-hour maintenance and few hundred other items. When you then factor in government regulations, language and cultural differences, and even SARS, it makes what WOW has accomplished that much more impressive.

Whether or not Blizzard can continue this delicate balancing act between countries and cultures remains to be seen, but it is extremely interesting to view the unique challenges facing Blizzard when maintaining and expanding WOW over the next couple of years.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 1:00 PM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 31, 2005

Rumor Control: World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

Pandaren ExpressBlizzcon is done, the new World of Warcraft expansion has been officially announced, so ... now what? What do all these new changes mean? Since I have unofficial connections at Blizzard and have been playing WOW over the past four years (yes, you read that right) I thought I would put some of the larger rumors and questions to rest. If you have any other questions let me know and I'll do my best to answer them...

Why is the Horde getting the Blood Elves?
There are many reasons for this decision but first and foremost is that Blizzard needs to do something to bring back balance to the races as the Alliance drastically outnumber the Horde. In the US and Europe approximately 61% of all users play Alliance and 39% play Horde (source: Warcraft Census Plus) and from what I understand is that the servers in Asia are even more unbalanced. Take into account that of all the races in WOW the Elves are by far the most popular race in the world and you have a nice solution for adding players to the Horde side.

But weren't the Blood Elves/High Elves on the side of the Alliance?
Yep! But Blizzard owns the Warcraft lore and can change it however they wish. In fact, this discrepancy is even pointed out and explained in the Preview Trailer on the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade web site. If you watch the trailer they explain how the High Elves were nearly destroyed out when their homeland was crushed by the Undead (as depicted in Warcraft III) and became utterly desperate to survive. During this dire time they learned how to tap into their own ambient magical energies and how to suck the mana from creatures around them for sustenance (the new "Mana Tap" ability). Like magical vampires, the High Elves -- renamed the Blood Elves in honor of their fallen dead -- learned to survive. However, their constant thirst for magical energy has left them addicted to magic and insane and their experiments with dark magics have made enemies of their former friends. And just as easy as that the Blood Elves are now members of the Horde! Remember, Blizzard owns and controls the Warcraft universe and can manipulate it however they wish.

So what is the new Alliance race going to be?
Unknown at this time, but don't rule out any race (including the "ugly" Draenei). Well, any race except the Pandaren.

Why not the Pandaren? Why are so many other sites reporting the Pandaren as the new Alliance race?
When the editors of the gaming magazines were brought to Blizzard's offices to view The Burning Crusade for the first time, there were dozens of posters and artwork depicting the Pandaren as the new Alliance race. At the time Blizzard was 80% certain that the Pandaren were going to be the new Alliance race and it was presented as such. However, due to various complex reasons, there is now a zero percent chance of this happening. At best you might be seeing non-killable Pandaren NPCs in the game.

Could this change at all? Could the Alliance get the Pandaren?
Considering the charged political reasons surrounding this issue I do not believe that Blizzard will change their mind on this decision.

Why raise the level cap to 70?
By raising the level cap Blizzard has accomplished several things at once. People who quit the game after reaching level 60 will now have a reason to come back and retry the game (and purchase the expansion). People who are still actively playing will now have a new challenges and new areas to explore (and purchase the expansion). And by raising the cap it will give Blizzard a reason to release even more powerful Tier 3 and 4 gear without destroying the game balance. Considering that around a third of all active characters in the game are level 60 (and always growing), Blizzard needs to do something to add more depth to the endgame and keep people continuously interested in playing. By raising the level cap it will allow them to add deep endgame content throughout levels 60-70, more Tiers of equipment, and more instances as opposed the current setup where all the endgame content is focused around just level 60.

But what about my Tier 1 and 2 gear from Onyxia and Ragnaros? Won't that get nerfed because of level 70?
Well yes and no. No because at levels 61-70 it will be that much easier to kill Onyxia and Ragnaros and pick up Tier 1 and 2 for the first time. Yes because there are going to be a lot new harder dungeons and new loot. Expect to start seeing all new Tier 3 and 4 gear (and higher) with the expansion.

When is expansion coming out?
Expect the expansion to be released around Christmas 2006.

Why so long?
Not only is there still a huge amount of work to be done on the expansion but it needs to be throughly tested. From what is understood the expansion will monstrous in size, larger than some MMORPGs are at launch. This will not be a simple patch but an entire new world for exploration with hundreds of new items and quests, a new city, nearly a dozen new instances, and much much more. So not only does all of this have to be created, which is a monumental effort, but it needs to be extensively tested. And considering that the beta test for WOW was over a year long expect the testing for the expansion to be just as extensive.

So what about those rumors about Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3 being revealed at Blizzcon?
Obviously these rumors were incorrect. However I will tell you that if you ever visit Blizzard's office there is an entire wing which has higher security than Fort Knox. What are they working on in there? Who knows? Rock N’ Roll Racing 2? Return of The Lost Vikings? One can only hope...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 AM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 28, 2005

Blizzard Officially Announces WOW Expansion

World of Warcraft The Burning CrusadeSo it's official. The new World of Warcraft expansion has just been announced by Blizzard and The Burning Crusade web site has been opened. Again, I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but here are the details:

  • An increase in the level cap to 70.
  • Two new playable races, including the magical Blood Elves.
  • New starting zones in Quel'Thalas and beyond.
  • The entire new continent of Outland, reachable through the
    Dark Portal.
  • Many new high-level dungeons to explore in Azeroth, Outland, and elsewhere.
  • New flying mounts in Outland.
  • Many new and dangerous monsters, including epic world bosses.
  • Hundreds of new quests.
  • Hundreds of new items.
  • A new profession: Jewelcrafting.
  • Socketed items.
  • And much, much more...
One little tidbit, I just had lunch with my friend my Blizzard and it turns out that they don't expect the expansion to be released until Christmas ... of 2006! So expect lots and lots of changes until then, and even more complaining!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:00 PM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 28, 2005

Lots of Juicy WOW Expansion Info

WOW! Yeah!Okay, I usually don't approve of gaming magazine scans, but the info in here is quite good ... and in English. Basically everything that I posted about yesterday is in here but in a lot more detail. What do you guys think? Here are the links (some people are having issues with these, there are others below): Pages 1-2, Pages 3-4, Pages 5-6, Pages 7-8, and Pages 9-10.

If those links don't work give these a try: Pages 1-2, Pages 3-4, Pages 5-6, Pages 7-8, and Pages 9-10.

Also a bit of info about the origin of the scans (this letter wasn't written to me, rather the person who posted the original scans):

This is Jeff Green, editor-in-chief at CGW, and was just alerted to the fact that this article has been posted here. Now, I'm a reasonable guy and also a smart guy, so I knew the article would get scanned and posted right away. I can deal.

However, the scanner dude who did this could have at least had the decency to give credit where credit is due, don't you think? We worked hard on that article, and while I suppose I *could* be a d**k here and ask you guys to take it down, I'm not, because along with being the editor of the mag, I'm also a huge WoW fan and like sharing the info anyway. All I want to do is have it at least acknowledged by the poster where he got it from. Kinda uncool to take our name off.

Okay, I'm done. And I'm off to BlizzCon! Yay!

And this isn't a joke post, btw--you can email me at jeff_green@ziffdavis.com if you want me to confirm, though I won't be able to answer ya until I get back from BlizzCon.

Thanks.

Jeff Green
Editor In Chief
Computer Gaming World
Eggbert, Level 47 Gnome Warlock

Posted by Gaming Steve at 10:00 AM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 27, 2005

Finally, Some BlizzCon Details Confirmed

Blood ElfIn just one more day none of this will matter anymore, but I figured it was worth the post to straighten out what we know about the World of Warcraft expansion. My buddy from Blizzard said the following after he read last week's speculation article, "you can say you know someone from Blizzard who says that 'leak' is speculation at best, and a lot is just made-up stuff."

However, I was able to find out a few interesting things that will be revealed at BlizzCon on Friday.

  • Official title: “The Burning Crusade”.
  • Max level increased to 70.
  • 2 new races: Blood Elves for the Horde & unknown for the Alliance (unsure if the new Alliance race will be shown at BlizzCon).
  • New race for Alliance will NOT be the Pandarean.
  • Blood Elves can play mage, warlock or warrior. Still being determined if they can play rogue or hunter.
  • No new classes.
  • New profession: Jewelcrafting (exact details of how this profession will work are still being determined).
  • Flying mounts attainable at level 70, but they can only be used in the Outlands.
  • At BlizzCon attendees will be able to play as Blood Elves and will get to adventure in the starting area for the Blood Elves (other areas may be playable as well, including a 5-player group instance).

A few other interesting tidbits that I managed to find out. New raids will, if anything, require less people and not more. New high-level instances are going to be much shorter to allow for easier re-raiding and group looting. There will be tons of new areas opened up for players, including (perhaps) a raid instance in Tanaris that will allow to travel in the time and participate to the most important events of the story of Azeroth. Also the actual release of the expansion is a long way off (expected around May 2006). Hence a lot, and I mean a lot, can and will change from now until then.

And one final note ... yes, the level cap is going up to 70. Get ready to start grinding again!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:30 AM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 26, 2005

Blizzard's Xbox 360 Surprise

BlizzConSo what's going on between Blizzard and the Xbox 360? There have been several "leaks" over the past few months, including the "accidental" listing of StarCraft: Ghost for next-generation consoles, an hour-long "Microsoft Next Gen Platform" presentation at BlizzCon this Friday, and several "Next-Gen" programming positions on the Blizzard jobs board.

Most likely Blizzard will simply be showing an Xbox 360 version of StarCraft: Ghost, but there is the possibility that they will be announcing an Xbox 360 version of World of Warcraft. However, I have confirmed that Greg Canessa (Group Manager of Xbox Live Arcade) will be at BlizzCon this weekend.

Why is the Manager of Xbox Live Arcade attending BlizzCon? Is he there just to hang out and play World of Warcraft with the masses or is he going to be announcing something? Very interesting. Well, BlizzCon starts on Friday so we'll all know soon enough!

UPDATE: This afternoon Blizzard changed their BlizzCon schedule and the mysterious Microsoft presentation was renamed to "MS Windows Vista Presentation". Hum, perhaps Greg is just going down to BlizzCon to play games and geek-out with the rest of us? We shall see...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 8:30 AM | Posted to MMORPG | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 20, 2005

World of Warcraft Expansion - Extensive Details?

WOW Blood ElfPerhaps the only thing we know for a fact is that in ten days at BlizzCon the new World of Warcraft expansion will be released. But until then let the speculation/guessing begin!

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit just came from the site WOWGuru where someone posted an extremely detailed overview of the WOW expansion plan. Who knows if this is accurate or total bullcrap, but it "seems" to be legit.

What I do know is that the expansion will be massive and not just a simple content update and according the post the expansion will be massive and include two new races, a new class, a higher level-cap, new transportation methods, a huge number of new instances and locations and more. Hence, I believe this post to be pretty close to the "real deal". Or it's the work of a very imaginative (and creative) poster, what do you think?

The original post is quite long, here are the highlights (even the highlights are long!):

Expansion Name: The "Burning Crusade"

Max Level Increased
The max level players may now reach has been increased to 75, and many new max-level raid instances have been added to the game world (Note, other sites are reporting the new level-cap to be 70 but I believe 75 to be the correct level-cap).

New Horde Race: Blood Elves
Racial Trait: Demonic Corruption - Blood Elves begin the game with +10 resistances to all types of magic. In addition, all of their resistances to magical spells and effects, excluding Nature, are increased by 8%. Available Classes: Warrior, Rogue, Mage, Priest, Warlock, Spell Breaker.

New Alliance Race: Draenei
Racial Trait: Unseen - Once every ten minutes, the Draenei may go invisible for fifteen seconds. This effect may not be canceled, and the Draenei cannot attack or cast any spells, and they are also considered to be "in combat" for the entire time of this effect. Available Classes: Warrior, Rogue, Hunter, Spell Breaker.

New Class: Spell Breaker
Spell Breaker - Among the Blood Elves, there are those who show such an amazing aptitude for magic that they can become almost immune to it's effects and can even twist the spells of others to benefit themselves. Spell Breakers begin the game with leather armor but are able to use mail once they reach level forty.

NEW AREAS

Undermine
This is a level 60-65 zone, and is now the main hub of neutral transportation.

Quel'Thalas
With the aid of the Horde and Argent Dawn, the Blood Elves drove some of the remaining Scourge out of Quel'thalas. The Blood Elves have started to rebuild their cities, and have unexpectedly found that some cities were untouched.

Gnomeregan
The new starting area for Gnomes. Gnomeregan can take the player to about level 12 after which they have to go to other areas.

The New Echo Islands
The new starting area for Trolls. These islands can take the player to about level 12 after which they have to go to other areas.

Northrend
The Horde and Alliance are now able to reach the continent of Northerend, thanks to the aid of the Goblins of Undermine. A zeppelin will take the players to the town of Valgarde in Northerend, where they will begin many quests to oppose the Scourge. Northerend is a massive level 65-75 zone, and contains many new max-level instances.

The Emerald Dream
The Emerald Dream is the primal heart of Azeroth. It is an echo of what the world would be like if intelligent beings had not altered its surface. The ethereal layer of the Emerald Dream shares the same space of the Physical layer one on top of the other - a parallel realm overlapping the physical world like an invisible and intangible layer. The Emerald Dream is a level 70-75 zone which will have players attempt to cleanse the Emerald Dream of the Nightmare - and, if the rumors that are told are true, Archimonde will once again need to be defeated by mortals...

UPDATED TRANSPORTATION
All boats from neutral cities, such as Ratchet, and Booty Bay now connect to Undermine. New boats have been added to Steamwheedle Port, Menethil Harbor, and Theramore which will take anyone on it to Undermine. In addition, there is a new zeppelin which will take the player to Undermine. There is also a zeppelin on Undermine which will take the player to the shores of Northerend, to a town called Valgarde. All goblin-owned transportations now have at least four level 62 Undermine Bruisers on them. Alliance-owned and Horde-owned transportation now force any members of the opposite faction on them into PVP, and are also now guarded by at least four level 60 guards.

NEW INSTANCES

Naxxaramas Necropolis
Within Stratholme, near the Slaughterhouse of Baron Rivendare, is the Naxxaramas Necropolis. Kel'Thuzad reigns the Undead Scourge from the Naxxramas Necropolis. This new 40-player, level sixty raid instance is equal in difficulty to Blackwing Lair, and will send the player to assault the Tower of Medivh.

The Tower of Medivh
This tower was described by Medivh as an Hourglass. As the sand particles flow slowly through the hourglass clock, time flows in different places of the glass, allowing one to see the past - and future - of Azeroth. This is a 40-player max-level raid instance, much more difficult than Naxxaramas Necropolis.

Caverns of Time
This is the lair of Nozdormu, one of the five great dragon aspects. Nozdormu, unlike most other dragons in the game, requires the aid of mortals. To repair damage done to the timeline, Nozdormu will send players on large raids into two 40-player, level sixty raid instances, and one 40-player max-level raid instance, the first two being equal in difficulty to Naxxaramas Necropolis, and the final being equal in difficulty to The Tower of Medivh.

Outlands
The desolate place of Outland emits flashes of light and streams of energy. Outland is currently a way station. Many portals are still active within some of the floating asteroids, leading to other worlds. This new zone is for groups of five or more max level players. Among the creatures that inhabit Outland are Felboars, Phase spiders, Draeni, Fire Elementals, Fungal Horrors, Succubi, Nether Dragons(composed of nether energy, and not related to real dragons).

The Black Citadel
Beneath the Black Citadel, there is a very large prison. Rumors have been created that heroes from past wars are still being held within this prison, and that even now the ruler of the Black Citadel tortures these heroes. Other rumors are that Kil'jaeden, the most powerful entity of the Burning Legion, dwells withing this Citadel, plotting the destruction of Azeroth. This is a large, 50-player raid instance.

Grim Botal
Rumors have emerged that Alexstrasza and her dragonflight are keeping anyone from getting near Grim Batol. They are protecting something deep within its walls, a secret power. Some say they are protecting a powerful artifact or creature.

Some have gone as far as to speculate that Deathwing has been held captive and imprisoned within Grim Batol, though, others believe in the possibility that the creature that now holds the essence of the Sunwell might be under protection of the Red Dragonflight. Anyone who dares to venture into this max level 50-player raid instance will find themselves standing against the power of the Red Dragonflight, Alexstasza, herself. This is equal in difficulty to The Black Citadel.

The Lair of Malygos
Malygos lives in Northrend in a deep and complex cavern. He is known to gather relics of arcane power, keeping them locked away from mortals. Frozen Orcs, Nagas, Trolls and Wendigos are many of the victims of the horror of Malygos' power, and to display what happens to those who venture into the Lair of Malygos. This is a 50-player max level raid instance, equal in difficulty to Grim Batol.

Icecrown Mountain
Icecrown Mountain is the most difficult instance to ever be in Azeroth, and will challenge anyone to stand against the power of not only the Lich King's armies, and his most trusted lieutenant, Anub'arak, but also the Immortal Lich King himself.

This is a 100-player max level raid instance, and will challenge the Horde and Alliance to work together to defeat the Immortal Lich King. To have the full 100 players, 50 players of max level on Horde and 50 players of max level on Alliance must work together, merging both groups of 50 into one large raid party. Upon Icecrown, Horde and Alliance may not attack each other at any time, but are instead able to aid each other. Leaders of the Argent Dawn have also worked together to teach the Alliance and Horde to understand both, Common and Orcish, so they may communicate as they work together to defeat the Immortal Lich King.

The Eye of Ysera
Deep within the Emerald Dream is the Eye of Ysera. The Eye of Ysera is a large golden dome that randomly appears in the Emerald Dream, and the dome in which Ysera dwells. No one has ever been able to enter or penetrate the golden dome. That is, until the Nightmare came... And once again, if the rumors were true, this is where Archimonde will most likely be...

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